Welcome to the webbed and wired edition of R&R, aristotle. We’ll be doing the same sort of song and dance here as we do in print: reviewing the latest comics and cartoon-related books and ranting about trends and abuses and unfathomable foolishnesses. Each installment will stay here for about four weeks, with a new one coming in just about every other week or so. If you don’t have the time to ponder every punctuation mark in this deathless prose and merely want to see what might be there that would interest you, we suggest you scroll down the page looking for the bold-face type that heralds the notables who reside herein this week. So here we go with Opus 365 (and a reprise of Opus 364):
Opus 365: Politics Sneaked into Marvel Comic, Suppression and Censorship of Cartoonists, Women Cartoonists Cracking the Ceiling, Analysis of Batman, the Spirit Joins Tracy & Other Eisner Centennial Celebrations (May 6, 2017).
Opus 364: Corto Maltese, Dieter Lumpen, Mankoff’s Autobiography, Jack Cole’s Cuties, Stein Cartooning Again, Reuben Nominees, Editooning the Health Care Debacle (and Other Trump Malfeasances) & Obits for Jay Lynch, Skip Williamson, Bernie Wrightson, James Stevenson and Howard Shoemaker (March 31, 2017).
Opus 365 (May 6, 2017). We planned to get this installment posted a week ago. And it was, at that time, a short and sweet opus. But Fate conspired against us. Just as we were wrapping up the tidy package, fresh news broke, and we, ever conscientious and dutiful, scrambled to record it. This always happens to us: late-breaking news suddenly surfaces, and our best laid plans gang aft agley, as Robbie Burns would say.
The Trumpet kept doing new idiotic things, so we altered and added to what we’d already written. Then Bob Mankoff announced, just the day after leaving The New Yorker, that he was becoming humor and cartoon editor at Esquire. Added that. Then a day after that addition, more information about his move arose. Added that. Then we found what Playboy had to say about Jack Ziegler. Added that. Then more information about cartooning in distant countries with repressive regimes popped up. Added that. Syrian cartoonists are still at it. Added that.
Every time something new happened, we had to add a little moron.
To wit— Hare raising news of the month about the Marvel artist who snuck politics into a comic book; Bob Mankoff, former cartoon editor at The New Yorker, going to Esquire the day after he moves out of his office; new cartoon format at The New Yorker?; the Denver Independent Comics and Art Expo; several reports on repression of cartoonists abroad and (even) here, women cartoonists cracking the ceiling, classic look revived at Archie, how Staton and Curtis got the Dick Tracy gig, plus reviews of a new analytic book about Batman, an expanded biography of Will Eisner, and graphic novels Eisner’s A Contract with God (revisited) and Blacksad. And notes about comic books Snotgirl, Tank Girl, I Hate Fairyland, All Star Section Eight, Grass Kings, and American Gods. Not to mention our continuing examination of the evils of Trumpery. We’ll post the complete list in a trice.
MEANWHILE, WE’VE SUCCESSFULLY NEGOTIATED another Easter, dying eggs and indulging a species of cannibalism by eating chocolate bunnies. We look forward every year to the arrival of this holiday, hoping that this year, we’ll see the Easter Bunny suitably attired in red short pants, white three-finger gloves, and giant yellow shoes. Our hope, of course, is in vain: the long-eared leporidae re-appears faithfully in fur and only fur from head to paws.
Our church is surrendering to a weird brand of political religious correctness: they’ve started calling Easter by another name—Resurrection Sunday—because, I assume, Easter is a word with a pagan (or at least non-Christian) history that the Passionate Faithful wish to shed.
Naturally, I deem this effort as not only misguided but misbegotten. “Easter,” the word as well as the holiday, has a history, and to consign the word to Limbo is to deny history—which, in this case, seems to me like denying the religion it’s associated with. So I’m on the cusp of doing something to correct this fresh sin: the next installment of Harv’s Hindsight will provide a history of “Easter” and of the Easter Bunny. Stay ’tooned and you can’t miss it when it’s posted (in the next week or so). In the meantime, take the Rabbit Test that appears in this place on the Other Side of the $ubscribers Wall: how many of the cotton-tailed comic characters can you name?
And now, to enable you to pick just those articles you want to spend time on and skip the ones in this massive installment of Rancid Raves that are of little interest to you, here’s what’s here, in order, by department—:
NOUS R US
Morin Gets Pulitzer
Mankoff Lands at Esquire
DINK Does Well
Marvel Artist Does Politics in X-Men
Marvel Diversity Turns Readers Off?
Turkish Cartoonist Faces Jail Sentence
Zunar Wins One
Another Seditious Malaysia Cartoonist
Syrian Cartoonists Continue the Fight
Censorship in U.S. Alive and Well
Trumpest at the Border Stops Cartoonist
New Cartoon Format at The New Yorker
Humor Times Is 26
Classic Look Lives On at Archie
Chartoon at Time
Odds & Addenda
Lucky Luke is 70
Looney Tunes at DC
Free Comic Book Day, May 6
FUNNYBOOK FAN FARE
Reviews and Comments on—:
I Hate Fairyland
All Star Section Eight
WOMEN CARTOONISTS ATTACK CEILING
More and More
Trumpery All Over
The Evils Thereof
Sampling the Best Editorial Cartoons of the Month
NEWSPAPER COMICS PAGE VIGIL
Comic Strip Antics
THE SPIRIT JOINS TRACY TO FIGHT CRIME
The Crossover and—
How Staton and Curtis Got the Tracy Gig
Mad about Trump
Long Reviews Of—:
Caped Crusader: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture
Will Eisner: A Spirited Life, Deluxe Edition
LONG FORM PAGINATED CARTOON STRIPS
Reviews of Graphic Novels—:
A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories: Centennial Edition
Blacksad: A Silent Hell
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
If Not of A Lifetime
“Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”—Kurt Vonnegut
Our Motto: It takes all kinds. Live and let live.
Wear glasses if you need ’em.
But it’s hard to live by this axiom in the Age of Tea Baggers,
so we’ve added another motto:.
Seven days without comics makes one weak.
(You can’t have too many mottos.)
And our customary reminder: when you get to the $ubscriber/Associate Section (perusal of which is restricted to paid subscribers), don’t forget to activate the “Bathroom Button” by clicking on the “print friendly version” so you can print off a copy of just this installment for reading later, at your leisure while enthroned. Without further adieu, then, here we go—:
NOUS R US
Some of All the News That Gives Us Fits
MORIN GETS THE OTHER HALF OF HIS SET OF BOOKENDS
Two decades after Jim Morin won his first Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, the Miami Herald veteran now has a matching bookend reports Michael Cavna at the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. And he goes on—:
Morin, who joined the Herald in 1978, was named the winner of the 2017 editorial cartooning Pulitzer on Monday, April 10, for a portfolio that “delivered sharp perspectives through flawless artistry, biting prose and crisp wit,” according to a five-person jury.
Morin called the honor “very satisfying” — especially because, he told Cavna, “I’m always dissatisfied with what I do, and keep trying to change and explore to improve the drawings.”
His winning cartoons ranged from the 2016 presidential campaign to restroom politics to the Flint, Mich., water crisis. We have samples on the Other Side of the $ubscribers Wall. Morin, a Syracuse alum who was born in Washington, was a Pulitzer finalist in 1977 — the year before he joined the Herald — and again in 1990. He first won the Prize in 1996.
“It’s amazing to be honored toward the end of your career,” he said.
Morin’s trophy shelf includes the 2007 Herblock Prize, the 2000 Fischetti Award and the 1999 Thomas Nast Society Award.
The 2017 finalists were past Pulitzer winner Steve Sack of the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) — who last month won the Overseas Press Club’s Thomas Nast Award — and past Herblock Prize recipient Jen Sorensen, who is a freelancer.
The Pulitzer jury included two cartoonists — 2014 Pulitzer winner Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer and 2015 Pulitzer winner Adam Zyglis of the Buffalo News — in addition to three other journalists.
MANKOFF LANDS AT ESQUIRE
Late-Breaking News, Kimo Sabe!
One day after his last day at The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff accepted a job at Esquire—as cartoon editor, the position he filled at The New Yorker for almost 20 years.
“Cartoon and humor editor,” as the position is styled, is a new one at the Hearst-owned men’s glossy.
According to Hearst, reported Alexandra Steigrad at wwd.com, Mankoff will be responsible for “reviving the decades-long tradition of cartoons in Esquire,” which published more than 13,000 cartoons dating back to the 1930s. (For more about the founding of Esquire, visit Harv’s Hindsight about E. Simms Campbell in May 2013.)
For years, Esquire’s full-page color cartoons rivaled The New Yorker’s expansive treatment of the medium and were the envy of cartoonists nation-wide even if they did not aspire to be published in the men’s magazine.
“Mankott will edit humor stories, pitch ideas, draft cartoons and recruit a new generation of humorists to Esquire and Esquire.com,” said Steigrad. “He will also find ways for the magazine to make its original cartoons available for prints and licensing,” which is what he did when he created the Cartoon Bank that, later, The New Yorker bought from him (a condition of the sale being that Mankoff be named cartoon editor—see March 2017 Hindsight on Mankoff; dunno what he finagled at Esquire).
“Bob is one of the funniest, most creative people I know,” said Esquire editor-in-chief Jay Fielden. “What he’s going to do is invent an entirely new look and sensibility in cartooning by upping the aesthetics and embracing a wide set of fresh voices. ‘La La Land’ proved an old form can become a new sensation. That’s the ambition here.”
Mankoff, as we might expect, is eager to begin and, as a student of magazine cartooning, appreciative of the role Esquire played in the development of the single-panel magazine cartoon.
“Esquire was home to some incredible cartoonists and humorists over the years, and it’s a real thrill to be able to reintroduce and reinterpret that legacy for a new audience,” Mankoff said.
But he won’t be doing it by using the “open door” policy he followed at The New Yorker.
“That selection process,” Mankoff told Michael Cavna at the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs, “is delusional.” The policy permitted cartoonists—even unknowns—to submit cartoons face-to-face with Mankoff, an encounter that often ended in swift rejection. Each line drawing effectively got only an instant audition, so even promising gags that didn’t quite “sing” right then and there were quickly rejected.
Mankoff now believes there’s a better way to nurture good cartooning that just leaving the office door open to all comers. “It’s important to use these editorial muscles that I’ve developed over all these years,” said he.
“I want to try something new,” Mankoff said. “I’ve had this idea for a long time, but in the New Yorker context, it didn’t make sense.”
Probably because at The New Yorker, he was working with a significant number of long-time contributors, all experienced enough to turn up their noses at the scheme he’s now contemplating.
He imagines his new approach could “reinvigorate the ecosystem of magazine cartoons.”
His new idea: what if he were to work closely with a handful of different cartoonists every issue, in a process that he says would “feel less hierarchical” and “more productive”?
His goal is to spotlight each humorist’s voice by helping them to develop their material.
Mankoff wouldn’t work just with artists, but also performers. “I want stand-up comedians to work with cartoonists, too, to [explore] what a stand-up sensibility could be in a magazine.”
That collaborative approach, he notes, is more like what The New Yorker was still doing a half-century ago, when illustrators and gag writers might be paired on a cartoon. And given today’s technology, you can collaborate in “a virtual writers’ room” — one in which a stand-up like Pete Holmes, he says, might work with cartoonists like Alex Gregory and Matthew Diffee, who grew in prominence within the pages of the New Yorker.
“Combining different skill sets could be very powerful in … heightening the quality of humor,” Mankoff says. “That’s my ambition through collaboration, and that’s [new Esquire Editor in Chief] Jay Fielden’s ambition, too. I’ve known him since 1997. We go back a long way, and we have a great working relationship.”
“I look forward to working with new talent, too. It will be a commission process, essentially, like working together on an article,” Mankoff says. “We will all have skin in the game, writers can be emboldened — and my door is open.”
While Mankoff’s plan seems novel, it actually isn’t all that new. As he observes himself, his idea harkens back to the way The New Yorker worked on its cartoons for the first 25-30 years. It was an approach “that began to lose favor in 1952, when William Shawn [became editor and] began encouraging the magazine’s artists to develop their own voice rather than to rely on gagwriters,” observed Michael Maslin at his Inkspill blog.
“While using gagwriters is still an approach employed by a very small number of New Yorker cartoonists,” Maslin continued, “it has been largely out of favor at the magazine since the early 1970s. Roz Chast, in a brochure for an exhibit of New Yorker cartoons, wrote that she felt the use of gagwriters was ‘like cheating.’”
Not only were many of the cartoons drawn to captions supplied by others (E.B. White and James Thurber famously wrote and re-wrote lots of captions), but the weekly “art meeting” at which cartoons were selected for the next issue was a collaborative enterprise “wherein a number of editors and Rea Irvin, the magazine’s first ‘art supervisor’ joined in on helping sharpening the work,” said Maslin. “When Shawn was appointed editor, he abandoned that collaborative effort.”
Maslin said it will be “fascinating” to see how Mankoff’s “retro-collaborative approach plays out in the pages of Esquire.”
Mankoff’s scheme might well “reinvigorate the ecosystem of magazine cartooning,” but there are still very few magazines that publish cartoons. And without publishing opportunities, what happens to the ecosystem?
Maybe Mankoff secretly believes that his plan will help insinuate cartoons into magazines that don’t, at present, use them. A real revolution, in other words.
On the Other Side of the $ubscribers Wall, we have Mankoff’s cartoon, announcing his desertion of top-hatted Eustace Tilley at The New Yorker in favor of Esquire’s Esky, the magazine’s bulbous-eyed roue of a mascot created near the dawn of time by cartoonist E. Simms Campbell. The cartoon is itself a “visual signal” about what Mankoff imagines for the future of single-panel cartoons.
DINK DOES WELL
Just got back from attending and exhibiting at the 2nd annual DINK. D-I-N-K, as nearly as I can figure it, stands for "Denver INdependent ComiKs & Art Expo"— or some such designation. Took place this year in a larger venue than last. I don’t have any actual attendance numbers, but good-sized crowds both days, Saturday and Sunday, April 8-9. Could be an impression, though, brought on by the narrow aisles: the narrower the aisles, the more they seem to be full of people even if the number of people isn’t that great. No matter: I had a good time and sold a goodly quantity.
DINK is a happy comics craft show: lots of graphic novels of all sizes and quality (many surprisingly very well done by unknown creators) and a noticeable infiltration of tables at which jewelry and other craftiness were displayed and sold. No movie stars. No Hollywood promo for the latest superhero flick. No games. And no cosplay to speak of.
Well, one cosplay: it was billed as the 27th International Dog Cosplay Championship. That, of course, was entirely made-up: this was the first of these canine costume competitions, a not-too-subtle satiric comment on the whole cosplay excess of recent years. A vivid display, we might say (wincing all the while), of what happens when wearing a costume goes to the dogs.
The tabletop exhibit was distributed on two floors, the second and third; panel presentations took place on the first floor.
I was on an aisle that cornered at a 3-table lashup for the Bros Hernandez, one of whom, Mario, came by and bought a copy of my Accidental Ambassador Gordo, Gus Arriola's memorable strip about a Mexican bean farmer turned tour guide. Next to them, Denis Kitchen held forth and later, with Mario Hernandez, led a cannabis tour. Other notables included Amy Reeder, Tony Millionaire, Andrew McLean, and Sucklord selling toys next to the ForeverScape art installation.
The latter is a continuous drawing that Vance Feldman began in 2009. “Since then,” according to the placard posted near the display, “the ForeverScape has grown to over [the equivalent of] 1,200 pages.” But the pages are laminated (for want of a better word) together in one long strip, which was displayed on an ingenious “playback” device, designed and engineered by Feldman: the strip rolls off one roller on the right, slips across the display area on top of a “table,” then rolls around and under the table onto another roller at the other side.
For seven years, Feldman has worked on it every day at the rate of about half-a-page a day. It’s “seven years and still growing, longer than the Titanic but still afloat.” Says Feldman: “It goes on until I do.”
You can see the artwork at ForeverScape.com, but for the visual adventure at DINK, you’ll need to see the photos on the Other Side of the $ubscribers Wall, where, amid the visuals, we launch a new product—a bodacious coffee mug emblazoned with a fetching portrait of Starbright (all of which is explained there).
My grandson and his mother (my daughter) came down on Sunday, and he went bananas over graphic novels, stoking up a full bag of them.
In other words, a good time was had by all—without movie actors or people dressing up in costumes. And without superheroes.
As BleedingCool put it: “This is truly a convention for people who love underground and independent art, comics and ’zines.”
And tattoos. Everyone there loves tattoos. They all had at least one tattoo. I spent most of my time between visiting with customers trying to find among the passersby someone without a tattoo. Not much luck.
MARVEL ARTIST SNEAKS POLITICS INTO HIS PICTURES
And Gets Fired For It
April was an exhausting month for comics gossip and scandal, chief among the disturbances— Marvel’s termination of its contract with Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf because he slipped religious and political allusions into X-Men Gold No.1. ... To See What He Did and How He Did It, To Learn More about Cartooning in Repressive Cultures (Including, Sometimes, Our Very Own), To See How Women Cartoonists Are Cracking (Or Not) the Ceiling and How Trump Looks on the Covers of More Magazines, To Learn How Batman Has Infected Itself Through Several Manifestations, and To Celebrate the Centennial of Will Eisner’s Birth by Glimpsing an Enhanced Edition of the 2005 Biography and by Revisiting A Contract with God—and More, Much More---Click Here And If You're Not a $ubscriber/associate—
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